Answer: To stand up for free speech again savages who murder over being offended. That's why.
Free speech aside, why would anyone do something as provocative as hosting a "Muhammad drawing contest"?— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) May 4, 2015
Answer: To stand up for free speech again savages who murder over being offended. That's why.
Free speech aside, why would anyone do something as provocative as hosting a "Muhammad drawing contest"?— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) May 4, 2015
Two suspects, who are now dead, opened fire at a Muhammed Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas tonight. The event was held as a protest for free speech in response the recent Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. The exhibit was hosted and organized by Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs. Participants were asked to submit cartoon depictions of Muhammed for a contest and for the exhibit. There were 200 people at the event, 350 submissions were made from all over the world. The winner of the contest is a former Muslim and was awarded $10,000.
Multiple shootings, possible bomb at AFDI/Jihad Watch free speech event in Texas: This is a war. This is war o... http://t.co/eAyMlcowMd— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) May 4, 2015
"We had an event in defense of freedom of free speech in the age of jihad," Geller told Fox News, adding that when the event ended at 10 p.m. two men drove up and shot a police officer. The men were then engaged by police and killed. "This is a war and the war is here. This isn't Paris, this isn't Copenhagen, this is Texas."
"Each person is responsible for their own freedom," Geller said.
Security for the event reportedly cost $10,000 and was beefed up in expectation of an attack.
The fact is that security is massive at the event, which speaks to the eroded state of free speech in this country.
Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who is on a variety of Islamist hit lists, was at the event.
One security officer has been shot but is in stable condition (UPDATE: He has been released from the hospital). Explosives were reportedly brought to the scene by the suspects and a vehicle is being searched. The dead suspects will also be searched for explosives. Attendees were taken away from the scene on school buses.
Tea party leader and former congressional candidate Katrina Pierson was in attendance. She said once the shooting started, attendees started singing the Star Spangled Banner and prayed.
Two suspects. At least 1 suspect is down. 2 officers shot. They are moving us to another location. Concern of explosives.— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 4, 2015
Shots fired from the South side of the building. Everyone inside is ok.— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 3, 2015
Reports of a suspect with hand grenade at the Walmart across the street. It's being evacuated now.— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 4, 2015
The officer will be ok. Two suspects shot dead.— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 4, 2015
While in lockdown, audience breaks into song and prayer. National Anthem an God Bless America pic.twitter.com/ufgR8BOOpr— Bob Price (@BobPriceBBTX) May 4, 2015
Naturally, prominent jihadists like Anjem Choudary are celebrating the attack (ironically by practicing their own free speech). I won't publish his bile here.
More on the alleged suspects:
This is reportedly the account of one of the shooters in the Garland, Texas attack: @atawaakul. His avatar is Anwar al-Awlaki.— Gartenstein-Ross (@DaveedGR) May 4, 2015
The Garland Police saved the day. This could have been much worse.
Someone tell the Jihadists that on U.S. soil, the 1st Amendment trumps their feelings, and the 2nd Amendment trumps their threats #Garland— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) May 4, 2015
Updates to follow.
This post has been updated.
Editor's note: A previous version of this post stated the event took place in Dallas. More accurately, it took place in Garland, Texas. Further, it was stated a police officer was shot. It was a security officer.
In a bit of odd news coming out of Madison, an ordinance was passed that protects atheists and people lacking religious beliefs from discrimination. Atheists and non-religious are now given the same protection against discrimination as religious people.
From the Associated Press:
In what is believed to be the first statute of its kind in the United States, Madison banned discrimination against the non-religious on April 1, giving them the same protections afforded to people based on their race, sexual orientation and religion, among other reasons.
It's hardly surprising that such a statute would originate in Madison, an island of liberalism in a conservative-leaning state and the home of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. But the ordinance's author, Anita Weier, said it didn't arise from an actual complaint about alleged discrimination based on a lack of religious faith.
"It just seems to me that religion has spread into government more than I feel comfortable with," said Weier, who left the council after the statute passed. "It just occurred to me that religion was protected, so non-religion should be, too."
At what point does an ordinance become so broad that it effectively renders itself useless? Also, does this indicate that a lack of belief is considered to be a system of belief?
It’s common knowledge that higher education institutions are dominated by left-leaning professors and administrators—and if you somehow missed that chapter, Townhall columnist Mike Adams, Campus Reform, or even a Google search will quickly fill you in. Nowhere is this political bias more prevalent, however, than at our nation’s Ivy League universities.
So, how bad is it? At institutions like Harvard, the numbers are truly staggering.
Republicans running for president might as well skip any fundraisers at Ivy League universities like Harvard, where a new analysis shows 96 percent of faculty donations over the last three years went to Democrats.
Academia in general, and the elite northeastern schools in particular, have long been seen as a bastion for left-wing professors. Nationally, about two-thirds of college professors say they are liberal and less than a tenth identify themselves as conservative, according to one study.
The disparity, which was brought to light by the school’s student newspaper, even surprised Harvard Dean Michael D. Smith.
“I am amazed at how high that number is,” he told the Harvard Crimson.
In the presidential race in 2012, every one of the eight universities in the Ivy League saw more than 90 percent of faculty donations go to Obama. Some say that shows a troubling lack of ideological diversity on campuses and could lead to students getting biased educations.
“It is a shame that our greatest universities have become ideologically monolithic," Georgetown law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz told FoxNews.com. "At many of these schools, including Georgetown Law School, most students will graduate without ever laying eyes on a single Republican professor.”
“Ideally these universities would expose students to the most powerful arguments on both sides of the great issues, rather than indoctrinating them with the ideology of the far left,” he continued.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is a long shot for the 2016 nomination – a very long shot. His early fundraising campaign, however, is putting Republicans to shame.
CNN has the scoop:
Bernie Sanders' nascent presidential campaign announced Friday that it raised more than $1.5 million in its first 24 hours, a number that far outpaces what Republican presidential hopefuls posted in their first day.
Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, kicked off his dark horse campaign for the Democratic nomination on Thursday with an email to supporters and a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol. Since then, more than 100,000 people signed up for the campaign and 35,000 people donated money, according to a campaign press release.
Sanders also vowed to spurn Super PACs, instead pledging to raise money by appealing to the rank and file of the Democratic Party. And his strategy seems to be working. As the article excerpted above goes on to note, the ‘average donation’ Sanders has thus far received is roughly $40. This shows that the lifeblood of his campaign – i.e., money – will come not from the “millionaires and billionaires” he angrily derided in his campaign announcement, but ordinary citizens concerned about income inequality, money in politics, and climate change.
Sanders, for his part, is the first presidential candidate to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Former President George W. Bush doesn’t like to complain. How can he when he’s riding through sunny trails alongside some of our nation’s heroes? Number 43 kicked off the 5th annual Warrior 100K in Crawford, Texas, a three-day bike event held to recognize wounded warriors.
Fox News’s Dr. Marc Spiegel caught up with the former president before he hit the trails Thursday. President Bush explained what made this group of bikers so special.
“We’re here riding with people that got hurt. Yet they’re refusing to let their injury consign them to a dull, meaningless life…These vets are setting an example to other citizens who might be complaining about their fate in life.”
These veterans’ courageous spirit in the midst of malady is inspiring. Here’s a bit more information about the bike ride held in their honor.
The Warrior 100K — and its fall companion, the Warrior Open golf tournament — are signature annual events of the George W. Bush Institute’s military service initiative. The institute, Bush’s think tank, is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University.
Bush’s passions for mountain biking and golf are well-known. So the two events are a natural complement to the institute’s wide-ranging, research-based work involving military veterans, their families and the 46,000 nonprofits that aim to help service members.
By holding this annual event, President Bush is helping to bring attention to these veterans’ needs, while also highlighting their strengths. He’s not the only one. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2216) was created by concerned members of Congress to ensure necessary funding for veterans programs and to make the Department of Veterans Affairs more accountable. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) has also proposed an amendment to boost veteran job training and services, which will help ensure their talents are not being neglected.
“We can’t afford to leave our veterans behind, and my amendment to help veterans better transition from military service to the workforce is another important way we can meet our obligations to our nation’s brave service members.”
After the shameful status of the VA was revealed last year, these politicians’ dedication to our vets is extremely welcome.
Veterans’ wounds are often invisible. Our efforts on their behalf should not be.
Law enforcement seems to be having trouble keeping tabs on their service firearms. On March 24, a young child visiting the Capitol entered the bathroom of the visitor’s center only to find a loaded Glock handgun in one of the stalls. It belonged to one of the Capitol police officers with Speaker John Boehner’s security detail–and this isn’t the first time.
Roll Call reports that another officer with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell left his Glock sidearm and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder on January 29, while on April 19, a janitor cleaning the Capitol Police headquarters found another handgun “left in plain sight.” Oh, and Capitol Police aren’t required to report such incidences [emphasis mine]:
A report to the Capitol Police Board, obtained Thursday by CQ Roll Call, showed the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended six days of suspension without pay for the officer involved in the Jan. 29 incident. The latter two are still under investigation, which consists of matching the serial number to the department’s inventory record, then interviewing the officer.
How often do officers leave their guns unattended around the Capitol complex? The answer is unknown because Capitol Police are not required to disclose such incidents. The Jan. 29 incident went out over the radio system, but the other two have been kept quiet, based on conversations with nine Capitol Police employees from various divisions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal issues. None seemed surprised, and two offered other examples of officers who were investigated for leaving their guns unsecured or unattended.
“The Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters,” said Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, in an email. “Each disciplinary matter is thoroughly investigated and reviewed, employees are held accountable for their conduct, and they are provided due process in adjudicating these matters. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee’s record, and other ?required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment. As a matter of policy, the Department does not routinely discuss internal personnel matters, in order to maintain the integrity of the Department.”
It’s unclear how thoroughly the two top Republicans in Congress were briefed on lost gun incidents involving their respective security details. Boehner’s office had no immediate comment. McConnell’s office also did not immediately comment.
The publication did correctly note the precariousness of the situation, as the Glock system has no external safety, like Sig Sauer (though the Sig Sauer has a de-cocker mechanism making it “harder” [more or less] to fire your first round), thus making it easier for children who have no experience handling firearms susceptible to egregious harm–even death–from this negligence.
Yet, the Capitol Police are hardly alone concerning negligence with their service firearms. Last year, the Milwaukee Sentinel detailed how agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives left their handguns in bathroom stalls, movie theaters, at a hospital, on a plane, or “simply leaving them on top of their vehicles and driving away.”
One rather disconcerting incident that was reported involved an agent who after a night of drinking in Los Angeles in 2011, awoke to find his government-issued Glock missing.
As the saying goes, there are no gun accidents, only negligence.
Editor’s Note: I didn’t clarify, nor did I add information about Glock’s internal safety mechanisms –and that’s entirely my fault. While both weapons systems have no external safety [like on a Beretta 92FS]; the Glock has three internal safety mechanisms. You can read about them here on Glock’s website.
The Glock has a trigger safety that prevents the firing pin and the drop safeties from releasing. The firing pin safety prevents the pin from moving forward hitting the primer of a chambered round that would led to a discharge, while the drop safety keeps the firing pin in place.
Also, I was referring to the Sig Sauer system with the de-cocker mechanism in the original post. This mechanism safely carries the hammer down when a round is chambered. This makes the trigger pull heavier when firing your first round. The succeeding rounds are easier to fire as the trigger pull is less intense due to the hammer being cocked after the first shot.
A Glock does not have a hammer.
Again, I was remiss in not adding this information in the original post. At the same time, it doesn’t negate the fact that leaving firearms within the reach of children is highly irresponsible.
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a daughter earlier today in London. While her name has yet to be released, she weighed eight pounds three ounces at birth, and both mother and daughter are reportedly doing well and are "very happy."
The birth was announced both on Twitter and via a town crier, who was possibly self-appointed.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter at 8.34am.— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 2, 2015
It is expected that the Princess's name will be revealed within a few days. Her official title is "Her Royal Highness The Princess of Cambridge," and she is fourth in line for the throne after her grandfather, father and brother.
We keep hearing about the emergence of permanent Democratic majorities from the strategists, advisers, and chairmen of both political parties. It’s pervasive–and couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re a government based on public opinion. Public opinion is shiftable sand, as George Will and the late Sen. Barry Goldwater have said previously. The latest person to mention this unicorn of a political theory is New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who argued earlier this month that such an electoral phenomenon was one of the reasons why Hillary Clinton will win in 2016.
1. The Emerging Democratic Majority is real. The major disagreement over whether there is an “Emerging Democratic Majority” — the thesis that argues that Democrats have built a presidential majority that could only be defeated under unfavorable conditions — centers on an interpretive disagreement over the 2014 elections. Proponents of this theory dismiss the midterm elections as a problem of districting and turnout; Democrats have trouble rousing their disproportionately young, poor supporters to the polls in a non-presidential year, and the tilted House and Senate map further compounded the GOP advantage.
Skeptics of the theory instead believe that the 2014 midterms were, as Judis put it, “not an isolated event but rather the latest manifestation of a resurgent Republican coalition.” Voters, they argue, are moving toward the Republican Party, and may continue to do so even during the next presidential election.
It has been difficult to mediate between the two theories, since the outcome at the polls supports the theory of both the proponents and the skeptics of the Emerging Democratic Majority theory equally well.
He also added that “youngsters” aren’t shifting to the right. That’s true. But as Guy pointed out this morning, the Harvard University's Institute of Politics’ poll showed the gap has closed between Millennials favoring a Democrat over a Republican (55/40) since 2008 (66/32) and 2012 (60/37). Yet, on policy matters, young people tend to favor school choice, tax cuts to expand the economy, and reject affirmative action initiatives. Then again, they feel health care is a human right, and support measures to combat the phantom threat of climate change. Guy noted that the results of the poll are mixed, but it shows that there are many avenues from which the GOP can make inroads with this voter bloc.
Megan McArdle of Bloomberg was more skeptical of this emerging majority hypothesis as well. Besides Republicans coming back in 2010 and 2014, she went back all the way to 1976 and 1980, noting who at the time of Carter’s electoral victory thought a Republican would absolutely destroy him after just one term. She added, “The bigger your coalition, the bigger its internal tensions. Coalitions can collapse suddenly and without warning.”
Also, McArdle touched upon the women’s vote. Yes, Democrats will probably win women again in 2016, but their failure with male voters could neutralize any gains Clinton needs to make beyond, young, college-educated single women:
Clinton seems to be planning a platform heavy on items designed to appeal to female voters, such as paid family leave. But these actually appeal to a pretty narrow segment of the population -- young single women, and those with small children -- where Democrats already do really well. There's the risk that these gain her voters among folks who are already strong Democrats while costing her votes in segments she needs to pick up. Especially since any serious promise of these things is going to have to come with a plan for paying its hefty price tag.
Another aspect that cuts into the Emerging Democratic Majority thesis is the diaspora of white voters from the Democratic Party. Democrats need working whites to retake the House, the Senate, and the White House–and as I’ve written in other posts; it isn’t solely a southern problem. Republicans have two-thirds of the governorships, the largest House majority in over seven decades, and the most state legislatures since 1920. The Obama era has witnessed the complete decimation of Democrats at the state and local level; a critical point since this is where the new talent is cultivated and nurtured to fill the ranks of the aging Democratic leadership in Congress. It’s so bad that Clinton has made it one of her rebuilding projects if she wins in 2016. It’s going to be a hard journey since only 30 percent of whites live in an urban setting. The rest are in rural areas and firmly Republican. As Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics said in 2013 at a Brookings Institution event, working class whites had no party representing their interests in 2012. Mitt Romney didn’t offer them much, and Obama was too liberal. Clinton intends on running towards Obama’s record next year. While Hispanics–and Asians–might become more influential in elections in future elections, their impact is not going to be as profound as many in media circles contend. For starters, their share of the electorate in 2012 was only 10 percent. More blacks than Hispanics participated in the 2012 elections, and any shift in a voting bloc that small isn’t going to have a massive ripple effect in the way whites–who still make up roughly 75 percent of the electorate–do.
As Trende noted, Republicans just needed to nab an additional 3 percent of the white vote in 2012 to get 51 percent of the popular vote, and possibly the presidency.
Bill Clinton was able to resonate with these voters. It remains to be seen with Hillary, who is an exceptionally bad campaigner. Moreover, the top dogs in the Republican field in 2016 are the furthest things from Mitt Romney. It’s much more blue collar, middle class, and reaped the benefits of American social mobility. Heck, Gov. Scott Walker–our potential 2016 nominee–is in debt.
Additionally, Nate Cohn of the New York Times–who Chait references-noted that Republicans have been making steady gains with Catholic voters, who usually broke evenly between the two parties.
The last note in Cohn’s piece strikes at the heart of the problem when either side declares permanent electoral majorities. It’s still very early to tell, but while Millennial whites lean Democratic, nonwhites is where Democratic Party seems to be becoming a little soft (via NYT):
There is, however, one intriguing weak spot for Democrats among the youngest millennials: minorities. While young whites are far more Democratic than their elders, the youngest nonwhite adults tend to be somewhat more Republican.
According to the Pew data, 17 percent of 18- to 25-year-old black adults lean Republican — far more than any other age group among blacks. The sample is small — just 354 black adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were queried — but it is not the only piece of evidence supporting this possibility. In the 2012 exit polls, just 80 percent of black men 18 to 29 supported Mr. Obama, although the number of respondents was quite low.
The Pew data isn’t enough to definitively state that Republicans fare better among the youngest nonwhite voters, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Republicans spoke of a permanent majority after Bush’s re-election in 2004; they got clobbered in 2006 and 2008. Democrats discussed how they might have a permanent majority after Obama’s landslide win in the 2008 presidential election; Democrats got shellacked in 2010 and 2014. Also, Republicans won women in 2010 (51/49), and were competitive with them in 2014 (52/48).
So, can we retire this term from American politics? Without a doubt, there can be the emergence of a long-standing coalition in politics. Democrats held the House of Representatives–and more or less dominated national politics–for nearly six decades before Republicans had their revolution in 1994. It was a killing field for Democrats. Now, Republicans possibly have a lock on the House for the next generation.
As for the turnout rebuttal from the left regarding the 2014 midterms, I direct you to Mr. Trende again. If 2014 turnout levels matched that of 2012 in terms of age and racial background, the Republican edge would only be cut by a small margin. It still would have been a rough night for liberals [emphasis mine]:
If the 2014 electorate had resembled the 2012 electorate in terms of race, the Republican vote share would shrink by just 1.97 percentage points. In other words, in a 2012 electorate, Republicans would have won the popular vote for the House by 4.5 points, rather than 6.5 points. That’s not nothing, as they say, but it still only explains a relatively small share of the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results. Put differently, if Obama had put up the same vote shares among racial groups in 2012 as Democrats ultimately did in 2014, he’d have lost.
Perhaps the difference is not so much differences in the racial makeup of the electorate, but rather differences in the age makeup of the electorate? The 2014 electorate was, in fact, quite a bit older than the 2012 electorate. This isn’t necessarily surprising, given that the elderly population is actually set to grow substantially in the next decade. Regardless, if we reduce the 65+ share of the electorate from 2014’s 22 percent to 2012’s 16 percent, increase the 18-24 year old share from 7 percent (2014) to 11 percent (2012), and adjust everything in between accordingly, the Republican advantage contracts by ... 1.94 points.
Now you might look at this and say, “Well, that’s a total of four points!” The problem with this approach is that there is a substantial double count going on. Democrats do better among young voters in large part because that demographic is less white; younger whites don’t vote that differently from older whites. So this isn’t a cumulative exercise.
To get around this, we can look at the age-race crosstabs. That is, the exit polls tell us how not just 18-29-year-olds voted and African-Americans voted, but also how 18-29-year-old African-Americans voted (and so forth). If those groups had turned out in a way as to re-create the 2012 electorate, the Republican margin constricts by a bit more than if we looked at race alone or age alone, but the change still only amounts to about two points.
In other words, even if Democrats had managed to re-create 2012-style age or racial demographics in 2014, they still would have had a rough year.
Thanks to widespread vaccination programs, the disease rubella (also known as German measles) has been eliminated from the Americas. While the disease, which has no known cure, manifests itself as a mild rash in fever in most children and adults, it is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and unborn children. Fetuses in their first trimester are susceptible to miscarriage and severe birth defects if their mothers contract rubella.
Since the rubella vaccine was developed in 1969, there has been a steady decline in the number of cases. Vaccinations were necessary to develop herd immunity against the disease and protect pregnant women and their children from contracting the illness. In developing nations, the vaccine was initially primarily given to women and girls, but once it was coupled with measles and mumps vaccinations (to form the MMR vaccine), men were eagerly vaccinated and encouraged their families to get vaccinated as well.
The campaign to eliminate rubella in the Americas was formally declared by the Pan American Health Organization in 2003, but many countries had long suppressed their outbreaks through various campaigns.
The island nations of the Caribbean began with a pilot program in the Bahamas in 1997, said Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, a Jamaica-based Pan American Health Organization adviser.
By that time, most children were protected by vaccinations given in school, but many adult men were not because earlier campaigns had focused on vaccinating only girls starting at age 10 because they were in the highest-risk group.
Vaccination teams set up tables at shopping malls, construction sites, union halls, bus stops where workers returned from field labor, high schools, universities and any place where unvaccinated men could be reached.
By then, the campaign was conducted largely with M.M.R. shots, and men were told that the rubella component would protect their unborn children, and that the mumps component would prevent mumps complications, which in post-pubescent men include painful swollen testicles and sterility.
Not only did the men line up for the shot, “but they brought their wives and girlfriends to construction sites to get it,” Dr. Lewis-Bell said.
Rubella joins smallpox and polio as diseases that have been completely eradicated from the Americas.
Unfortunately, rubella is not yet eradicated everywhere--even in developed nations. In Japan, 15,000 people were stricken with the illness in 2013. The outbreak was banned on Japan's ban of the MMR vaccine and spotty job at catching children up with vaccinations.
Clinton Foundation mistakenly listed payments to Bill from Chinese developer & US-Islamic Conference as donations. http://t.co/UNAP89ipu9— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) April 30, 2015
The foundation has also come under scrutiny for failing to clear all foreign government donations through an agreed-upon State Department vetting process when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and for failing to identify foreign government donations on tax returns. Fact-checkers this week challenged the foundation’s claims that it’s barred by Canadian privacy laws from revealing the names of more than 1,000 mostly foreign donors to a joint Clinton-Giustra nonprofit registered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It acknowledged in response to POLITICO’s questions that it mischaracterized as foundation donations money from the China Overseas Real Estate Development and the U.S.-Islamic World Conference. That money was actually honoraria paid for Bill Clinton speeches by those entities, said foundation officials, who added this week those were the only mistakes “we are aware of.”
As Cortney reported earlier today, Marilyn Mosby–the state attorney for Baltimore–announced that she has filed several charges against the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray after his April 12 arrest. Gray suffered a severe spinal injury, which eventually led to his death a week later; he had slipped into a coma. He wasn’t properly secured by a seat belt during transit, which is department policy–and did not receive the immediate medical attention.
After the police turned over their files on the case to prosecutors, Mosby brought forward the charges, including second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.
We still have yet to verify what happened during that 45-minute Gray took in a police van that led to these egregious injuries. What we do know is that he did not sustain them from the various videos that captured his arrest. Sources have told WJLA–a CNN affiliate– that the medical examiner’s report showed that Gray's head injury occurred inside the van during transit (via WJLA):
An investigation into the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray has found no evidence that his fatal injuries were caused during his videotaped arrest and interaction with police officers, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
The sources spoke to ABC7 News after being briefed on the findings of a police report turned over to prosecutors on Thursday.
Sources said the medical examiner found Gray's catastrophic injury was caused when he slammed into the back of the police transport van, apparently breaking his neck; a head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.
Details surrounding exactly what caused Gray to slam into the back of the van were unclear.
The officer driving the van has yet to give a statement to authorities. It’s also unclear whether Gray’s head injury was voluntary or was a result of some other action.
The Washington Post reported that the second person in the van heading to the police station with Gray alleged that he might have tried to hurt himself. Now, that story has been brought into question, as Donte Allen has come forward to say that he was the second detainee–and that there was relatively little banging from Gray in the van. He described the ride to the police station as a smooth ride (via NBC News):
A Baltimore man has come forward to talk about his April 12 ride in a police van with Freddie Gray, saying in an interview that he heard his fellow prisoner briefly making noise on the other side of a metal barrier.
"All I heard was a little banging for like four seconds," 22-year-old Donte Allen told local NBC affiliate WBAL. "I just heard a little banging."
Allen's account, given in an interview on the street with WBAL reporter Jayne Miller, differs slightly from the one described in a report in the Washington Post. Citing police documents, the newspaper quoted a prisoner telling investigators he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" and that he believed Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
The quotes came from an application for a search warrant that was sealed by court order but provided to the newspaper under condition that the witness not be named. Allen appears to be that prisoner; police have said that only two prisoners were in the van during the April 12 ride through West Baltimore.
Asked if he told police that he heard Gray banging his head against the van, Allen provided WBAL with a conflicting reply: "I told homicide that. I don't work for the police. I didn't tell the police nothing."
Even with Allen's account, it remains unclear what Gray was doing on the other side of the partition. Sources have told WBAL that Gray was unconscious by the time that Allen was loaded inside.
Slowly, but surely, we’re finding out what happened to Mr. Gray during those 45 minutes.
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
55% of physicians who made a political contribution during the last election donated to Democrats
181 –the number of Clinton Foundation donors that also lobbied Hillary’s State Department
52% of Democrats view socialism favorably
15 –the number of “senior officials” Kim Jong Un reportedly executed this year
1,100 –the number of foreign donations the Clinton Foundation failed to disclose
70 years ago Dachau was liberated
.2% --the amount the US economy expanded in Q1
15,000—the estimated number of people who died in the Nepal earthquake
55% of millennial voters would vote for a Democrat in 2016 over 40% who’d vote for a Republican
Rioting, looting, and all around mayhem struck Baltimore this week after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. What exactly happened to him was unclear all week, but on Friday the state attorney announced that after the administration’s investigation of the death, they are deeming it a homicide. But the damage has already been done—buildings were burned, police injured and targeted, reporters attacked, and stores looted. The White House called the rioters thugs, because, well, they are. The city’s councilman admitted that decades of bad policies caused the riots. This was AG Loretta Lynch’s first test.
The Clinton Scandal Continues
Author of the new book “Clinton Cash” did a series of interviews last week to discuss the troubling flow of funds to the Clinton camp and how it’s more than just a coincidence, but a trend. An official at the Sunlight Foundation said the foundation was essentially a slush fund. And the Boston Globe found even more evidence of undisclosed foreign cash going to Clinton groups. Even George Stephanopoulos can’t ignore this scandal.
This Week’s Absurdities
This week we saw boycotts against gay hoteliers for daring to dine with Ted Cruz (their apology was also not accepted), bureaucrats recommending a fine of $135,000 against a Christian-owned bakery for not baking a cake for a same sex wedding, people being offended over an ad featuring a woman in a bikini, another school pulling “American Sniper” from film lineup, and the Johns Hopkins University student government banning Chick-fil-A from campus—even though construction of one had not even been proposed.
Campaigns & Elections
Not much in the way of election news this week, but Bernie Sanders jumped in the presidential race and the GOP’s top donors have given more to Gov. Scott Walker so far than any other candidate/prospective candidate. For what it’s worth, however, Jeb Bush claims he set a fundraising record for the first 100 days of a White House bid.
In Other News
Thousands more of Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails have been found; DHS has a number of violent criminal aliens in custody, but they haven't been deported; an ISIS plot targeting the US embassy was thwarted by the Saudis; and not-so-surprisingly, Democrats oppose tough amendments to Iran legislation.
Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.
Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters. The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief. Talks between six major powers and Tehran are approaching the final stages after they hammered out a preliminary agreement on April 2, with Iran committing to reduce the number of centrifuges it operates and other long-term nuclear limitations. "The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it 'is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)'," the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran's compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime. KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities. Iran, which is has been under sanctions for years, has a long history of illicit nuclear procurement using front companies and other methods of skirting sanctions.
Iran would have enough enriched uranium within three months to be able to make up to eight nuclear weapons if negotiations with the international community blow up, Vice President Joe Biden said late Thursday, noting that “the path has already been paved” for that outcome. … “Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other,” Biden said. “They already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material. Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
Bear in mind that this was a defense of the administration that has been in charge of foreign policy for the last six years. They’ve tightened the screws on sanctions during that time, and so has Congress, but they’ve also been insisting for most of that time that Iran was years away from building a bomb. All during that time, Iran has insisted that they weren’t planning to build nuclear weapons and that their infrastructure was entirely aimed at medical and energy-producing technologies. Now, suddenly, Biden accepts the Israeli estimate of 90 days to a nuclear device, and says that’s why we have to make a deal now, with the same entities who Biden tacitly admits has been lying the whole time.
The progressive left–whether they like it or not–has their man. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-described democratic socialist, who tossed his hat into the ring to challenge Hillary Clinton for their party’s nomination; Sanders caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders said he’s in it to win, while progressives are still yearning for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another liberal firebrand, who has said she’s not running.
Of course, the Sanders bid doesn’t mean that Hillary’s in trouble; he trails her by 57 points nationally. This isn’t The West Wing, where a Democratic governor from New Hampshire, who isn’t all that popular with his party, beats the prohibitive favorite who had led him by 48 points. We’re not in that weird universe. So, while Sanders might say, “He’s in it to win” so as not to look like a sacrificial lamb, he really is. But he’s running to shape the debate, and raise issues that he cares about–if only for a short period (via FiveThirtyEight):
First, Sanders is liberal, and can sincerely sell a liberal vision to Democratic primary voters. Unlike Martin O’Malley, whose past public statements qualify as “moderate” according to OnTheIssues.org, Sanders is a “hardcore liberal.” On a standardized scale of -100 to 100 (with -100 being the most conservative and 100 being the most liberal), Sanders hits 54; O’Malley’s only a 25. Clinton is a 53. Sanders also has a very liberal donor base. According to Adam Bonica’s fundraising-based ideological scores (standarized to the same scale as OnTheIssues) Sanders rates with a 78 compared to O’Malley’s 41 and Clinton’s 58. Plus, Sanders had the most liberal voting record of any senator in the last Senate, according to roll call votes.
Moreover, the Democratic field is likely to be a shallow one. With so few serious contenders, Sanders is likely to pass the 15 percent threshold required to win delegates and remain at least somewhat relevant in the early states. Despite the fact that Sanders is fairly unknown, the only poll in Iowa that doesn’t list Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren as candidates has Sanders at 14 percent. In New Hampshire, Sanders is regularly hitting the low double digits, even with Warren given as a choice. Both Sanders and Warren do best among very liberal voters, so he should pick up at least some of Warren’s hypothetical support (assuming she doesn’t run).
When you fail to reach 15 percent, you risk becoming Dennis Kucinich. You say some things in a debate, and nobody actually cares because you’re not earning any real support. Sanders is in a far better position to be taken seriously and affect the policy discussion.
Sanders’s seriousness as a candidate could shift the dialogue in the Democratic primary. Clinton will have to at least entertain the very liberal wing of her party.
Also, the very liberal wing of the Democratic Party–where Sanders will resonate well–just isn’t strong enough to take on the Clinton juggernaut. That’s not to say that progressivism hasn’t become the dominant wing of the Democratic Party–it is, which is why Clintonomics isn’t the best source for policy prescriptions for Hillary. Yet, the base probably isn’t as far left in the vein of Mr. Sanders’ democratic socialism. Believe it or not, Black and Hispanic voters are described as not being uniformly liberal with 44 percent and 42 percent respectively being labeled “mixed” according to Pew Research’s ideological consistency evaluation. As Nate Cohn of the New York Times wrote, a lot of Democrats describe themselves as moderate, even conservative, in their political orientation:
The majority of Democrats and Democratic primary voters are self-described moderates or even conservatives, according to an Upshot analysis of Pew survey data from 2014 and exit polls from the 2008 Democratic primary.
Some of these self-described moderates hold fairly liberal views. But the “mostly liberal” Democrats barely outnumber Democrats with “mixed” or conservative policy views, according to the Pew data, which classified respondents based on how consistently they agreed with Democratic policy positions. Only about a quarter of Democratic-leaners hold the consistently liberal views that would potentially put them to the left of Mrs. Clinton.
These moderate and conservative Democrats allowed Bill Clinton to easily win the nomination in 1992 as a moderate Southern Democrat. They helped give Hillary Clinton a wide lead in the polls in 2008, until Barack Obama won Iowa and built an enormous lead among black voters — who represent about 20 percent of Democratic voters. Many black voters are moderate or conservative, allowing Mr. Obama to overcome the disadvantage faced by left-liberal Democratic candidates.
If the front-runner for the Democratic nomination were a fairly moderate Democrat, it would be easier to imagine a liberal Democratic candidate who could consolidate the liberal wing of the party and have a real chance of wining the nomination.
But by any measure — Senate voting record, public statements or campaign contributions — Mrs. Clinton is a liberal. She fares better among liberal Democrats than moderate ones in public opinion polls. She struggled to win over very liberal voters when running against Mr. Obama in 2008. But she did not lose them by a wide margin — and in some places, she won them.
Cohn’s final prognosis: Sanders will do well with the very liberal voters of the Democratic Party, but he won’t be able to expand his support since Hillary–more or less–has the rest of the party locked up.
At the same time, while the majority Democratic Party voters are reportedly “moderate,” it doesn’t mean they’re not loyal. These “moderates” twice voted for Barack Obama, who is certainly not a centrist political figure–and they will do the same for Clinton. Oh, and Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight said we shouldn’t be surprised if Ms. Clinton brings up Mr. Sanders’ lack of party loyalty since he “shunned” being listed as a Democrat on the ballot in his past elections.
On this week's Townhall Review:
Bill Bennett and Peter Kersanow on the riots in Baltimore. Michael Medved and Michael Steele on the riots. Bill Bennett and Heather MacDonald on the riots and how boys without fathers need role models. Mike Gallagher and Ryan Anderson on the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage. Bennett and Matt Frank on Supreme court case on same-sex marriage. Dennis Prager on global warming. Hugh Hewitt and Mitt Romney on Hillary. Medved and Karl Rove on Hillary. Hewitt and John Bolton on Iran.
State Attorney Marilyn Mosby held a press conference in Baltimore today to address her administration’s investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, a death that spawned violent protests throughout Baltimore earlier this week. After assuring the press that she and her team had produced a thorough, fair and independent investigation into the case, Mosby declared that they had deemed Mr. Gray’s death a homicide and that they have ‘probable cause’ to file criminal charges.
“Over the course of our independent investigation, my team worked 12-and-14-hour days to interview dozens of witnesses,” Mosby said. “We listened to hours of police video tapes.”
Based on their study, Mosby said they would consider Mr. Gray’s death a homicide. That brought cheers from bystanders.
She then went through the timeline of events. Mr. Gray had been illegally arrested and had suffered a severe neck injury after being shackled, handcuffed, and not being secured in a seat belt, Mosby explained. She also indicated he could not breathe and requested an inhaler, to no avail.
Based on these findings, her administration is bringing several charges against the officers involved, including second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.
Mosby ensured the press that her team’s investigative findings were not an indictment on the entire force, disclosing that members of her own family members were once police officers.
She closed her remarks by ensuring the people of Baltimore that she hears their cries for justice, but also needs their cooperation.
“I heard your calls for justice and peace,” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice for this young man.”
If there’s one thing that’s true, Christine Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute invites all the trigger warnings when she comes to speak at college campuses. Oh, and she’s the harbinger of microaggressions. It’s not a problem if you don’t understand these terms; they don’t exist in the minds of serious people. In short, they’re a set of protocols by progressives to shut the debate down because heaven forbid we challenge the preconceived notions about politics to those delicate snowflakes on the left.
Last week, Ms. Sommers (in some schools, the term “Ms.” is offensive) gave a lecture at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. last week.
The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute helped organize the event at Georgetown, and Sommers gave her lecture that lasted a little over an hour. Yet, the school administration is asking the College Republicans to edit the video of the lecture by removing footage of students who raised questions at the event (via Ashe Schow):
Lauren Gagliardi, the school's assistant director for the center for student engagement, emailed two members of the College Republicans to request they edit the video to remove students who did not agree to be videotaped.
In the email, provided to the Washington Examiner, Gagliardi tells the students that the "edited version needs to be released without students who did not give permission to be taped." She also says that if the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, which sponsored the event, is "unwilling or unresponsive to the request, Georgetown will need to step in."
The video that has Gagliardi so upset features feminist activists holding up signs accusing Hoff Sommers of being an anti-feminist or deny rape.
Laurel Conrad, the lecture director for the Clare Booth Luce Policy Center, wrote in Legal Insurrection that “it stretches credulity that Georgetown and its students would not understand that the lecture was a public event. The video camera was in plain view, and audience members themselves appear to be taking video and photos. It could not shock any student that he or she was on camera.” She also noted why she understands why Georgetown is taking this position; it’s a public relations nightmare.
Schow included a statement from Clare Booth Luce Policy Center’s founder and president–Michelle Easton–who noted that once the video was uploaded on YouTube, it’s impossible to edit.
Students held trigger warnings and directions of a “safe space” in case any attendees of Sommer’s speech caused them to feel uncomfortable. Again, is this real life?
Also, I would respect college liberals more if they would just come out and straight-up say they do not respect free speech on their respective campuses. The whole “we support free speech, but only what we view as legitimate speech” isn’t a standard. It’s not even a serious position. Nevertheless, The Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper, and their editorial team is just fed up with people articulating a different point of view [emphasis mine]:
The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and philosophy professor known for her criticism of contemporary feminism and her disavowal of a so-called “rape myth,” last week.
By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.
Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.
It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having. Students should engage in a dialogue that focuses on establishing a safe space for survivors while at the same time tackling the root causes of sexual assault.
Inevitably, the discussion initiated by Sommers distracts from a focus on solutions. At its worst, such discourse encourages rape denialism.
This ploy to divert attention and resources from solutions and survivors has no place anywhere — especially not at Georgetown, where students are fortunate enough to participate in a community that emphasizes care for the whole person. Denying the lived experiences of survivors stands in sharp contradiction to this value.
Conversations that focus on whether or not the problem is “overstated,” rather than on how the problem can be solved, are an insult to Georgetown’s survivors and a recipe for inaction.
Rape culture is a system that thrives on silence. Students cannot allow Georgetown’s sexual assault discourse to be subdued by those who would downplay the problem at hand.
Wait, we promote free expression, BUT a debate about the validity of statistics is not “valid.” Then, you don’t support free speech. It’s the same situation with anti-gun liberals, who say they’re for the Second Amendment and respect the rights of hunters (I doubt the PA State Game Lands, which didn’t exist, were a point of contention at the 1787 Constitutional convention), and then go on to support policies that chip away at gun rights. Granted, the statements by the Hoya are rather explicit in showing that they have no clue what freedom of speech entails. Yes, you have to tolerate some insane opinion. Yes, that’s a testament to how serious you take the Bill of Rights–and yes, you can choose not to go. This is college; I’m sure there are a multitude of other activities–college liberal-approved–that are occurring when these events occur.
Last December, Slate’s Emily Yoffe had a phenomenally research piece about rape statistics–and how they might not be as clear cut when given a second look. She also noted that the rush to prevent the spread of this “putative” epidemic on college campuses–and protect women from harm–has led to men’s rights being infringed by “misguided policies.” Gasp! Does Yoffe deserve a trigger warning too for writing something that is most certainly not a conservative publication?
One campus rape is one too many. But the severe new policies championed by the White House, the Department of Education, and members of Congress are responding to the idea that colleges are in the grips of an epidemic—and the studies suggesting this epidemic don’t hold up to scrutiny. Bad policy is being made on the back of problematic research, and will continue to be unless we bring some healthy skepticism to the hard work of putting a number on the prevalence of campus rape.
It is exceedingly difficult to get a numerical handle on a crime that is usually committed in private and the victims of which—all the studies agree—frequently decline to report. A further complication is that because researchers are asking about intimate subjects, there is no consensus on the best way to phrase sensitive questions in order to get the most accurate answers. A 2008 National Institute of Justice paper on campus sexual assault explained some of the challenges: “Unfortunately, researchers have been unable to determine the precise incidence of sexual assault on American campuses because the incidence found depends on how the questions are worded and the context of the survey.” Take the National Crime Victimization Survey, the nationally representative sample conducted by the federal government to find rates of reported and unreported crime. For the years 1995 to 2011, as the University of Colorado Denver’s Rennison explained to me, it found that an estimated 0.8 percent of noncollege females age 18-24 revealed that they were victims of threatened, attempted, or completed rape/sexual assault. Of the college females that age during that same time period, approximately 0.6 percent reported they experienced such attempted or completed crime.
That finding diverges wildly from the notion that one in five college women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate.
The Sexual Victimization of College Women, a 2000 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the basis for another widely cited statistic, even grimmer than the finding of CSA: that one in four college women will be raped.
But the authors go on to make several assumptions that ratchet up the risk. The study was carried out during the spring and asked women to describe any assaults experienced during that academic year. The researchers decided to double the numbers they received from their subjects, in order to extrapolate their findings over an entire calendar year, even as they acknowledged that this was “problematic,” as students rarely attend school for 12 months. That calculation brought the incidence figure to nearly 5 percent. Although college is designed to be a four-year experience, the authors note that it takes students “an average” of five years, so they then multiplied their newly-arrived-at 5 percent of student victims by five years, and thus they conclude: “The percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter.”
In a footnote, the authors acknowledge that asserting that one-quarter of college students “might” be raped is not based on actual evidence: “These projections are suggestive. To assess accurately the victimization risk for women throughout a college career, longitudinal research following a cohort of female students across time is needed.” The one-fifth to one-quarter assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.
Now, we can debate these findings–and we should. Even Yoffe's colleagues at Slate said it was a great write-up on how the 1/5 and 1/4 statistics are "shaky." Yet, the Hoya editorial board seems to think otherwise. It's troubling when Onion satire begins to mirror real life.
As for the video being edited, it should not be edited. Yes, Sommers had her detractors in the room, but nothing especially obnoxious occurred.
Exit question: Isn’t Washington D.C. a single party consent state for video recording? If that’s the case, then Georgetown really can’t “step in” regarding the editing of a public event.
The Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) does not live up to its name when it comes to protecting the rights of pro-life employers in the nation's capital. Voted into law by the Washington City Council, the act essentially forces employers to turn a blind eye when their employees use contraceptive or abortion services. Considering many Christian employers are against abortion, the law is a clear violation of religious freedom, and it's the reason some Republican representatives are seeking to halt the legislation.
House conservatives released the following statement in regards to their new effort:
“The House Freedom Caucus urges Republican leadership to allow the House to consider H. J. Res. 43 … as soon as possible this week before the law goes into effect,” the group said in a Wednesday statement. “[It] would discriminate against D.C. residents with pro-life views. RHNDA could force D.C. employers to cover abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire abortion advocates.”
Despite what liberals like Nancy Pelosi claim, the GOP is not demanding that employers should be able to fire their employees if they use reproductive health services. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who authored the resolution to overturn RHNDA, explained:
“My resolution does not remove protections for employee privacy or create new rights for religious organizations, it simply maintains the status quo in Washington, D.C. before this ill-conceived law came to pass. Further, the resolution does not in any way condone discrimination against women for healthcare reasons or otherwise. Women are already rightfully protected from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy status and a number of other fronts through both D.C. and federal law. This resolution does nothing to change that. As a registered nurse, I have spent my career caring for women, children, and families. The claims that my resolution amounts to ‘an attack on women’s healthcare’ are offensive and patently false.”
No employer should have to act privy to abortion if they believe it is morally wrong. That bit about freedom of religion in the Constitution grants them that right. Of course, pro-abortion Democrats are raising the "war on women" flag. Here's what Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra had to say after the GOP requested a vote:
Democrats say the Republican bill is another effort to intrude into employees' personal decisions about health care, and warned it could cause workers in D.C. who elect to use abortion services to be fired. "What a statement to women across America -- that a mostly older male body is telling women what they can do with their bodies," Becerra told CNN.
In addition to securing DC employers' religious rights, the Republican action may also be a way to win back the support of pro-lifers who are still angry over the GOP’s decision to sideline a pro-life bill in January that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Rep. Tim Heulskamp (R-Kansas), for one, believes they owe it to pro-lifers to try and restore that faith.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN he argued that social conservatives are "still upset and distrustful of our party" after House Republican leaders pulled a bill that banned later-term abortions from the floor earlier this year.
The GOP is admitting it's unlikely their efforts will be met with success, considering that, even if it does reach the president's desk, the White House has already warned that the president will swiftly veto it. But, at least pro-lifers will gain more confidence in the people they voted for and trusted to represent them. Making the move to stop a bill that would violate Christians' religious freedom while also protecting unborn babies is a pretty good start.
Okay. What is this? An Asian-American group at Brandeis University produced an exhibit addressing racial microaggressions, only to end up apologizing for microaggressing some members of the student body. It’s irony at its finest (via Kat Timpf):
The Asian-American Students Association at Brandeis University put up an exhibit to raise awareness about “microaggressions” on campus — only to end up apologizing after some students complained that they had been had “triggered” by it. The display, which had appeared on the steps of the school’s Rabb Graduate Center, featured white pieces of paper with examples of so-called “microaggressions” that Asian people must endure, as reported by Legal Insurrection.
The purpose of the exhibit, according to a BUAASA Facebook post, was to “bring attention to microaggressions that are frequently heard in and out of the Brandeis community” and demonstrate that when “seemingly innocuous comments” “build upon each other . . . the burden can be overwhelming and frustrating.” “This is what it feels like to hear microaggressions constantly used against you,” it continues. “These papers are invasive of a space that you often inhabit and must pass through; similar to how these remarks invade our communities and the space we share as a whole: Brandeis. The experience is often alarming, alienating, and ultimately harmful. To us, it is unavoidable.”
In any case, the plan backfired when some students apparently complained that BUAASA’s attempt at making campus a more safe space had made them feel unsafe. “We would like to acknowledge and apologize to the Asian students on campus who were triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions in our installation,” BUAASA’s president wrote in an e-mail to the entire student body today, according to Legal Insurrection. “We understand and empathize with the effect that this installation could have without the context of the explanation provided on our Tumblr,” the group wrote. The e-mail also announced that the microaggressions display had been taken down and replaced with an explanation that would remain there at least through the end of final exams.
First, some of these “microaggressions” are just contrived.
“I totally have an Asian fetish, wow you’re so Americanized! You have so many white friends, and go back to where you came from” were just some of the postings on campus. The latter one is just ridiculous. Even Martin Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York features more realistic anti-immigrant, racist, and in the case of Bill Cutting, anti-Catholic dialogue than these flyers.
When I was seven, I was called a “Chinese noodle” by a group of kids. Guess what; I got over it. For some, it appears that playing (frivolously) with semantics and–at times–curtailing free speech are the only ways to make them feel safe or something. It does provide some good entertainment though.
With order restored in Baltimore, the city can focus on rebuilding and return to investigating the event that caused the city to explode over the past couple of days: the death of Freddie Gray.
On April 12, Gray was arrested after a foot pursuit. The official reason isn’t known, but the fact that he fled police rose suspicions in a neighborhood known for drug dealing. After being placed in a police van, the next 45 minutes are rather a mystery. What we do know is that Gray received a fatal spinal injury sometime during the day, slipped into a coma, and died a week later (via The Baltimore Sun):
The reason Gray was chased by police remains unclear. Police have said it came in part because he ran, raising officers' suspicions in an area known for drug dealing. A police report on the arrest states that Gray "fled unprovoked" and that an illegal switchblade knife was later found on him but provides no other reason for the pursuit. Neighborhood accounts vary on where Gray ran before reaching Presbury Street and being apprehended by police. Washington said Gray dipped into "the cut" just south of West North Avenue, an alley that breaks into several directions in the center of a partially boarded-up block of rowhouses. It's a place strewn with broken liquor bottles, adjacent to backyards where dogs still keep watch.
Others say Gray ran straight south down Mount Street. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis said Friday that one officer on foot and two on bikes chased Gray "through several streets, several housing complexes," before arresting him. "It's a foot chase and it's a long one."
At 8:42 a.m., police requested a transport van at the scene. At that point Gray, who had asthma, asked for an inhaler, but Moore said police ignored the request. Batts has said Gray's trouble breathing was not given the proper attention at "one or two" of the van's subsequent stops.
One block south and four minutes later, at 8:46 a.m. at Mount and Baker streets, the van stopped because Gray was acting "irate," police said. Police have also said that paperwork had to be filled out, though they have not provided more detail. Gray was taken out of the van so officers could place leg shackles on him. Police have said he was not buckled into the van with a seat belt afterward, even though that is required by department policy.
Shouts at the scene brought Tobias Sellers and others running down the street.
Sellers, 59, who is Booze's brother and lives on the same block, said he was among those who started moving toward Gray, and saw police beating him. "They were taking their black batons, whatever they are, and hitting him," Sellers said.
At 8:59 a.m., as the van headed toward Central Booking, the driver called for an officer to "check on" Gray.
Police said an officer did respond and had "some communication" with Gray at the intersection of Druid Hill Avenue and Dolphin Street, though they have not described that interaction in detail and have said there is no surveillance footage. Batts said officers called to the van had to "pick [Gray] up off the floor and place him on the seat," but he declined to elaborate.
Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said police still need to determine what Gray's condition was at the intersection and whether the police response during the encounter was appropriate.
During the Druid Hill and Dolphin stop, a call came through asking the van driver to return to the 1600 block of W. North Ave. — not far from the spot where Gray and police first made eye contact — to pick up another person. Such vans are divided by a metal barrier, and the second person was loaded into the section of the van not occupied by Gray. Police have not described any interaction with Gray at this location. They have declined to identify the second person placed in the van, saying they need to "protect the integrity" of the criminal investigation into Gray's death, in which that person is now a witness.
After the pickup, the van headed south again — but this time it was headed for the Western District police station rather than Central Booking. When Gray was taken out of the van, Rodriguez said, "he could not talk and he could not breathe."
Beyond damage to his spinal cord, Gray had a crushed voice box.
At 9:24 a.m., officers called a medic to the Western District station, reporting that Gray was in "serious medical distress." The Baltimore Fire Department said the call arrived at 9:26 a.m.
Paramedics responded, spent 21 minutes treating Gray at the station, and arrived at Maryland Shock Trauma Center — where Gray would fall into a coma and die a week later — at 10 a.m.
The Sun added eyewitness accounts, which clearly showed that Gray was in some form of physical distress.
"They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami…He was all bent up," said Kevin Moore, who witnessed Gray’s arrest.
"They lifted him up by his pants, and he wasn't responding, and they threw him in that paddy wagon…it wasn't like they took him out to see what was going on with him. … I said, 'Call the paramedics!” said Jacqueline Jackson who lived near Mount and Baker streets.
The publication added that six officers–Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, Officers William Porter, Edward Nero, and Caesar Goodson Jr.–have been suspended. Five of the officers have provided statements; we do not know which one decided to abstain.
Now, there’s the latest development in the investigation involving a fourth undisclosed stop that was uncovered thanks to a private security camera. The police report has been turned over to city prosecutors, but Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said just because the report has been handed in, doesn’t mean the investigation is over (via CNN):
Police have handed their Freddie Gray investigative files over to prosecutors a day earlier than planned, police officials said Thursday, adding that newly discovered evidence in the case indicates the transport van made a previously unreported stop before delivering Gray to the precinct.
Following the announcement, the state's attorney for Baltimore confirmed she had received the report and said that while police have regularly briefed her office on their findings, her team has been conducting its own independent probe into Gray's April 19 death after his arrest a week earlier.
The new stop, which "was discovered from a privately owned camera," Davis said Thursday, came between the first and second stops.
Over at the Washington Post, the prisoner that was picked up noted that Gray might have been trying to hurt himself “banging against the walls.” Additionally, the reports that Mr. Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury before his arrest turned out to be false.
This incident deserves an investigation. For goodness sake, the timeline is incomplete. We have a clearer picture of those missing 45 minutes that led to Gray’s death, but it’s not yet verified. Moreover, the Baltimore Police Department has had its share of incidents involving excessive force and civil rights violations. Since 2011, there have been 317 lawsuits filed against the city - 100 of them have been settled. Between 2011-2014, Baltimore doled out $5.7 million to alleged victims of police brutality, according to Business Insider. The comments from those who settled with the city will never be printed; it’s part of the agreement they signed with Baltimore City.
Now, it’s not as if the city’s police are incompetent. The city saw a dramatic drop in crime between 1999 and 2009, but the number of lawsuits and settlements in that short four-year window means authorities cannot ignore this Gray incident, nor should they sweep it under the rug. Concerning urban investment, the Sun noted that the $5.7 million the city spent to these reported victims of police brutality could have renovated 42 playgrounds, resurfaced 72 basketball courts, or hired 124 additional police officers. Lastly, the Strategic Report on how the Baltimore Police hold officers accountable isn’t a particularly good assessment:
The agency’s strategic plan, released late last year, said discipline “has not always been a priority for the Baltimore Police Department,” and it has been common “for cases in this department to take as many as three years to resolve.” A more recent consultant’s report on the Internal Affairs Division said detectives lack training and often take shortcuts when investigating officers suspected of misconduct.
Many complaints have focused on the Violent Crimes Impact Section, which had more than 260 officers in 2012. City Council members and community activists said those officers used heavy-handed tactics and had no accountability.
In addition to the allegations of excessive force, officers in the unit were accused by prosecutors of lying on a search warrant and working to protect a drug dealer in order to make arrests. One received six months of home detention; the other went to prison for eight years for protecting the drug dealer.
In September 2012, the unit sparked outrage when a detective threw Anthony Anderson, 46, to the ground during a drug arrest. Anderson’s spleen ruptured, and he died a short time later.
The state medical examiner’s office said the death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. But Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein declined to bring charges, ruling that the officers did not use excessive force and followed police guidelines. The family filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that three detectives kicked Anderson for several minutes; the case is ongoing.
Batts disbanded the Violent Crimes Impact Section in December 2012 in response to complaints and created the Special Enforcement Section to address spikes in serious crimes. The unit has about 130 officers.
Regardless of the misconduct and scandal that has plagued the Baltimore Police Department, that doesn’t give citizenry the license to riot, loot, vandalize, and set structures aflame. If anything, that only makes the situation worse since officers have an obligation to bring order back to the city. They will use everything in the arsenal to do so–and they should.
The Freddie Gray incident deserves an investigation, but a riot during the process doesn’t help anyone, especially the Gray family who looked beside themselves as the city burned earlier this week.
"I think you've sort of covered everything on that."
Having grown accustomed to WH press letting him drone on way too long, Obama finally gets called out (by a child) https://t.co/QYTbgdzZZT— Andrew Stiles (@AndrewStilesUSA) April 30, 2015
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the nation of Nepal last weekend, killing four Americans and thousands of others. To date, officials believe nearly 6,000 people have died in what has already been established as the most powerful earthquake to hit the region since 1932. Unfortunately, however, as with all natural disasters, the death toll continues to rise:
Up to 15,000 people may have died in the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal over the weekend, the country's army chief told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
The official death toll from Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake quake currently stands at 5,800.
"Our estimates are not looking good. We are thinking that 10,000 to 15,000 may be killed," said Gen. Gaurav Rana, who is leading the nationwide rescue effort.
The government’s response, meanwhile, has been painstakingly slow and sometimes ineffective. Hundreds, in fact, have been protesting — and demanding — action, urging government officials to do more to bring information and aid to those in need:
Over 200 Nepalis protested outside parliament in the capital Kathmandu, demanding the government increase the number of buses going to the interior hills and improve distribution of aid.
"I haven't been able to contact my family members in the village," said Kayant Panday, one of the protesters, who said he woke up at 4 a.m. to get a bus to a badly hit area but was not able to get one. "There is no way I can get information whether they are dead or alive."
The government has yet to fully assess the devastation wrought by Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake, unable to reach many mountainous areas despite aid supplies and personnel pouring in from around the world.
International aid began to pour in Monday, said Nepalese officials at the airport. Burlnarsingh Rana, an officer with the national police, said that since then, flights had arrived from the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, Pakistran, Sri Lanka and Israel.
On Tuesday, two U.S. military cargo planes arrived in Katmandu with American civilian assessment and rescue teams on board. But U.S. officials said that crowding at the airport was hampering the U.S. ability to ramp up its aid.
Despite such global humanitarianism — kudos, by the way, to Israel for leading the way — more must be done. Too many displaced persons lack food, shelter, medical care, and information. And although Nepal's leaders are doing all they can, including taking salary cuts to help with the crisis, the response is frustratingly slow. Meanwhile, those looking to graciously provide financial aid to those in need should be careful, and do some research before donating. Charity fraud is sadly not all that uncommon.
**Cross-posted at Hot Air**
As the death toll rises from Nepal’s horrific earthquake over the weekend, leave it to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to say that the GOP budget that was unveiled today is “no more balanced than the earthquakes” that have struck the Asian nation. Yet, one can see why Sen. Reid is so huffy. If passed, this would be the first 10-year balanced budget since 2001. It also has $5 trillion in spending cuts. But the budget also kills Obamacare through reconciliation, which prevents a Democratic filibuster (via the Hill):
The deal reconciles the rival budget blueprints passed by the House and Senate, and will not require a signature from President Obama. If adopted, it will be the first Republican budget agreement in a decade.
The House is expected to vote Friday on the deal, a leadership aide said.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees, hailed the agreement as a step toward curbing the government's "out of control spending."
The deal does not include a proposal from the House budget that would have called for giving seniors the option under Medicare of enrolling in private insurance. The idea has been championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Senate Republicans balked at including that plan, fearing it could become a political liability in a difficult election cycle where they are defending 24 seats.
Republicans have remained united behind the push to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation, something that conservatives began to demand after the GOP won control of Congress last year.
While the reconciliation process is difficult, legislation produced under the process cannot be filibustered in the Senate, effectively removing the power of Democrats to block it.
The reconciliation language in the budget gives deficit-cutting instructions to the congressional panels with jurisdiction over the healthcare law. They are the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
The budget tasks the authorizing committees with producing bills that slash the deficit by billions of dollars no later than July 24. After that, Republicans would have to conference the bills from the two chambers.
It also imposes a point-of-order against a reconciliation bill or resolution that would raise the debt limit over the next decade. That provision can only be waived if two-thirds of the Senate approves it.
Of course, Democrats are upset about this. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the budget will “ransack America’s future.” The article also mentioned that 1) Congress would probably have to raise the debt ceiling this fall and 2) the GOP is committed to $1.017 trillion discretionary budget cap–sequestration–set by a 2011 law. Yet, this reconciliation maneuver was mentioned in January when Republicans had their retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Senate’s Budget Chairman, said at he time he hoped to have a completed budget by April 15. He noted that the Reid era was over. House Budget Chair, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), said at the time that reconciliation is a powerful tool, but not a silver bullet. Both men said they were open to other options regarding budget reconciliation.
The process has drawn the ire of Republicans before, specifically when Democrats used it to pass Obamacare in 2010; the GOP has contended their past uses of reconciliation have been done to address budgetary matters not overhaul health care.
If you’re a Democrat, I’m sure you’re unhappy about the cuts, the use of reconciliation, but it’s not like Nepal. Please. People are still being pulled from the rubble and the last thing we need is for an outgoing Senator, who’s become rather undisciplined, to compare a horrific natural disaster. According to CNN, the death toll sits at a little over 5,200–and rising–with 1.7 million children needing immediate care. The monsoon season is upon Nepal, which means the risk of landslides and mudslides have increased in a region that’s already hampered by logistical problems regarding the rescue effort.
I guess when it comes to attacks; nothing is sacred for Mr. Reid. Whether it’s smearing a Republican presidential nominee with baseless claims on the Senate floor–and not regretting it–to just plainly calling people losers, we probably shouldn’t be shocked that Reid would use the Nepal earthquake to score some quick points.
He’s leaving; why should he care.
An unprecedented ethics promise that played a pivotal role in helping Hillary Rodham Clinton win confirmation as secretary of state, soothing senators’ concerns about conflicts of interests with Clinton family charities, was uniformly bypassed by the biggest of the philanthropies involved. The Clinton Health Access Initiative never submitted information on any foreign donations to State Department lawyers for review during Clinton’s tenure from 2009 to 2013, Maura Daley, the organization’s spokeswoman, acknowledged to the Globe this week. She said the charity deemed it unnecessary, except in one case that she described as an “oversight.” During that time, grants from foreign governments increased by tens of millions of dollars to the Boston-based organization. Daley’s acknowledgement was the first by the charity of the broad scope of its apparent failures to fulfill the spirit of a crucial political pledge made by the Clinton family and their charities. The health initiative has previously acknowledged failing only to disclose the identity of its contributors, another requirement under the agreement. The failures make the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is headquartered on Dorchester Avenue in South Boston, and goes by the acronym CHAI, a prominent symbol of the broken political promise and subsequent lack of accountability underlying the charity-related controversies that are dogging Clinton as she embarks on her campaign for president. The charity defended the lack of some disclosures on the grounds that the donations in question were simply passed through the charity to fund an existing project. Previously, it has acknowledged that mistakes were made.
Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t just running against Republicans. She’s also running against parts of her husband’s legacy. On issues large and small, the Democratic presidential contender is increasingly distancing herself from — or even opposing — key policies pushed by Bill Clinton while he was in the White House, from her recent skepticism on free-trade pacts to her full embrace of gay rights. The starkest example yet came Wednesday, when Hillary Clinton delivered an impassioned address condemning the “era of incarceration” ushered in during the 1990s in the wake of her husband’s 1994 crime bill — though she never mentioned him or the legislation by name.
Trade plan supporters, I hear Bill is available for a $500k speech that might "fix" this. (wink) https://t.co/yZZ3hlvagn— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 30, 2015